One day, during his usual visit, the Prime Minister asked the master, “Your Reverence, what is egotism according to Buddhism?” The master’s face turned red, and in a very condescending and insulting tone of voice, he shot back, “What kind of stupid question is that!?” This unexpected response so shocked the Prime Minister that he became sullen and angry.
The Prime Minister of the Tang Dynasty was a national hero for his success as both a statesman and military leader. Despite his fame, he often visited his favorite Zen master to study under him.
One day, during his usual visit, the Prime Minister asked the master, “Your Reverence, what is egotism according to Buddhism?” The master’s face turned red, and in a very condescending and insulting tone of voice, he shot back, “What kind of stupid question is that!?” This unexpected response so shocked the Prime Minister that he became sullen and angry. The Zen master then smiled and said, “THIS, Your Excellency, is egotism.” (Source: Spiritual Inquiry)
The word “Ego” is from Latin, and it means “the self.” To be egotistical is to be self-centered. Far from enhancing a person’s stature, egotism diminishes it. As American statesman Benjamin Franklin put it, “A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.”
To the egotist, everything revolves around the self. That’s why an egotist often becomes defensive and judgmental, taking things personally.
People with big egos are socially difficult, and their self-centered nature makes them hard to co-operate with. Ironically, their “me-first” arrogance seems to arise from a sense of inadequacy and inferiority. Their exaggerated sense of personal superiority is actually a front to mask their deeply felt sense of inferiority. They are really in denial.
Unfortunately, this results in their inability to be objective or open-minded in dealing with life’s problems. Since they judge success in a very self-centered way, their victories and successes hold meaning only for themselves. They may have intelligence in abundance, but their thinking is distorted. They use a number of justifications and rationalizations to make them appear right, without allowing for any other opinion.
As we take a closer look at egocentricity, we learn that:
• Egocentricity edges out our innate gifts.
• Either introvert or extrovert egos lead to imbalance.
• Defensiveness is an energy drainer that leads to imbalance.
• Both inferiority complexes and superiority complexes are driven by the ego, and always prove to be energy wasters.
• When ego enters, love exits.
If you are alert to life, you will see that you are a microcosm of the universe.
You do not live alone on an island; therefore Life Balance must be cultivated in the midst of others. Some people let their egos take over, and they forget about other people or look upon them as burdens or competitors, creating imbalance and unhappiness in relationships.
“We compete with others only in those situations in which we are afraid and defective in the initiative,” observed William and Marguerite Beacher.
You can turn EGO into an acronym for Edging Gifts Out. When you’re full of ego, you let it edge out gifts such as creativity, innovation, intuition, positive energy, objectiveness, and happiness.
Here are some strategies for avoiding egocentricity:
• Be non-judgmental.
• Cultivate emotional maturity.
• Cultivate objectivity to remain focused and clear about goals.
• Invite love into your life.
When there is love, there is God, and with love your life becomes a work of art, a piece of poetry. Love drives home the realization that you have been created and are not the creator. You no longer take things personally or become defensive or suspicious. You can say good bye to complexes – inferior or superior. You’ll find no more boundaries and fight no more turf wars. No more edging gifts out! You become a person who is confident of his place in the universe, and you become full of gratitude towards life.
Condensed message from “Life Balance the Sufi Way” by Azim Jamal and Dr. Nido Qubein. For feedback email firstname.lastname@example.org